Video: Scott Brown poised for Celtic return ahead of Saints clash
CELTIC captain Scott Brown is confident of a return to action for the start of his club’s Champions League campaign next week but remains uncertain whether he will be able to play in Scotland’s crucial World Cup double header next month.
The 27-year-old midfielder has been badly hampered by a degenerative hip injury since the start of the season, which has forced Celtic manager Neil Lennon to be highly selective about which matches he is chosen for.
Brown has yet to play a domestic fixture in the current campaign for the Scottish champions, his only four appearances coming in the home and away Champions League qualifiers against HJK Helsinki and Helsingborgs. He was unavailable for Scotland’s opening World Cup Group A fixtures against Serbia and Macedonia over the past week, his combative and dynamic presence sorely missed as Craig Levein’s squad were only able to draw both games at Hampden.
Lennon has made it clear Brown is currently unable to play two matches a week and there remains a possibility that surgery will be required to try to solve the problem.
Celtic begin their Champions League group stage campaign against Benfica at Parkhead next Wednesday and then have two away fixtures in October, against Spartak Moscow and Barcelona, either side of Scotland’s World Cup assignments in Cardiff and Brussels.
With Lennon understandably prioritising the Champions League in deciding when to ask Brown to play through the discomfort of his injury, the player’s condition will need to improve significantly if he is to be able to answer his country’s call as well.
Brown feels he has benefited from rest during the recent international break but admits doubts remain over his fitness, which he will assess again at Celtic’s training ground today.
“I’m feeling a lot better,” said Brown yesterday. “I’ve had two weeks’ rest and I’ve done nothing much at all. I’ve just sat down and relaxed, really. I’ve done some work on core fitness and other muscles to try to make them stronger. I’ll try training on Friday and see how things go.
“If I can play on Saturday against St Johnstone in Perth, I’ll try to play. But if not, then it’s Benfica in the Champions League that I’m looking forward to. Hopefully I can play in that game. I’ll just take it as it comes, see how I feel in the morning when I get up.
“I’ve just been told it needs a lot of rest. There is a lot of inflammation between bones and stuff like that. As soon as that goes away, I’ll be feeling a wee bit younger than I do just now. Maybe two or three weeks’ down the line, I’ll be feeling brand new again. I hope I can start full training next week and take it from there.
“It could need surgery but, hopefully, we don’t need to go that far. Hopefully everything will sort itself out and I’ll be like a new man. I’ll maybe just need to rest every couple of games or so, until it settles down a bit. It’s going to be a hard October and November as well, with a lot of games, and I don’t think a lot of the lads will play every single game.”
Brown has also been troubled by ankle injuries in recent seasons but pinpoints the hernia problem he suffered last year as the source of his current difficulties.
“Probably halfway through last season was the last time I was 100 per cent fit,” he added. “Just before I started to feel my hernia, I was flying. I was running around with no pain and nothing wrong with me.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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